Archive for the ‘Generational Gap’ Category

A Senior’s Guide to Texting: BTW, JK & LOL

Texting has gone mainstream and popular abbreviations like  JK,  LOL, BTW, BFF, L8R, and CYA are now part of our everyday vocabulary. 

For those of you who still require an interpreter:

BTW = By The Way

JK = Just Kidding

LOL = Laugh Out Loud

BFF = Best Friend Forever

L8R = Later

CYA = See Ya

More and more seniors are texting, tweeting, and “Facebooking,” especially if they expect to communicate with the kids and grandkids. Not to be outdone by the digital natives (Generation Y), seniors (aka older Baby Boomers and the Veteran generation) have developed a texting code of their own. As you will soon read, this has created some confusion depending on the generation doing the writing and reading. For instance: when a 20-something writes LOL, he or she is “laughing out loud.”  But a senior might read “living on Lipitor.”  Or the teen who might write nonchalantly add BTW, meaning “by the way,”  a senior might read it as “bring the wheelchair.”  Of course, this code is all in jest…so far!  But just in case you do receive a text message from a senior, here’s a short list of senior texting codes (not to be confused with sexting!)  Enjoy the read.

ATD = At The Doctor’s
BFF = Best Friend Farted
BTW = Bring The Wheelchair
BYOT = Bring Your Own Teeth
CBM = Covered By Medicare
CUATSC = See You At The Senior Center
DWI = Driving While Incontinent
FWB = Friend With Beta Blockers
FWIW = Forgot Where I Was
FYI = Found Your Insulin
GGPBL = Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low!
GHA = Got Heartburn Again
HGBM = Had Good Bowel Movement
IMHO = Is My Hearing-Aid On?
LMDO = Laughing My Dentures Out
LOL = Living On Lipitor
LWO = Lawrence Welk’s On
OMMR = On My Massage Recliner
OMSG = Oh My! Sorry, Gas.
ROFL…CGU = Rolling On The Floor Laughing… And Can’t Get Up
SGGP = Sorry, Gotta Go Poop
TTYL = Talk To You Louder
WAITT = Who Am I Talking To?
WTFA = Wet The Furniture Again
WTP = Where’s The Prunes?
WWNO = Walker Wheels Need Oil
LMGA= Lost My Glasses Again
GLKI (Gotta Go, Laxative Kicking In)

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Older Adults Catching Up To Young People Online

Older adults are catching up to young people when it comes to online social networking and other activities.

Social networking is growing at a faster rate among those ages 74 and up compared to any other demographic, a report says from the Pew Internet and American Life project released this week. The rate has quadrupled in the last two years, from 4 percent to 16 percent

While the Millennial Generation is more likely to access the Internet wirelessly than older adults, older generations are watching more online videos, listening to online music, and visiting online classified ad sites.

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Holy Toledo, Batman: Elderly Life Begins At 50!

Last night I was inducted into the Hall of Elderly Citizens. At least that’s how I felt.

It happened while I was the guest lecturer at a business consulting class at Salisbury University. The instructor invites business people to share their real-life experiences about marketing, hiring consultants, economic trends and more. This is the fourth semester I’ve spoken to the class.

At last night’s class I spoke about how social media was really a revolution, changing the way business was done much like what happened during the Industrial Revolution more than a century ago. For these students, I truly believe the upheaval in the labor markets and economy will create new opportunities for those prepared and motivated to take advantage.

I had their attention for the moment and believed I had bridged a generation gap of nearly 40 years effortlessly. But I quickly learned that for some of these young adults, anyone over 50 is … not just old but elderly. Yes, 50 years old is elderly in the minds of our youth. For anyone who believes that 50 is the 30 or 60 is the 40 here’s a reality check.  To a 22 year old, 50 is still old!

The scene unfolded like this. One team of students is working on a marketing project to help a local community attract the “elderly.” More specifically the group asked me “if Facebook is a good option for the 50 and older demographic?” That’s when I polled the rest of the class. One student responded “no, I don’t think the elderly use Facebook.” Another agreed.

Elderly = 50 years and older.  Holy Toledo, Batman.  I must have missed that memo…or maybe I just don’t remember!

I suggested to the student team that most Baby Boomers would not likely be attracted to a marketing campaign that referred to them as elderly or senior citizens. Active adults, maybe. Elderly? No chance.

The question ignited an interesting discussion about “older people” using Facebook.  One student “just couldn’t imagine his Dad being on Facebook.”Another replied that her grandmother was on Facebook every day. Of course, I quickly realized that I could be as old as or older than her grandmother. Ouch!

Thankfully, several other students chimed in and validated my point that not all 50 year olds are over the hill and living the life of a fuddy-duddy. The truth is that the fastest growing segment of Facebook active subscribers are 55 and older and that Facebook could well be an important marketing strategy to attract the aging Baby Boomers.

My day of confronting generation gaps was not over. I left the class to meet with three Perdue School of Business students who started up a new online business.  The purpose?  They wanted help in developing an Internet marketing campaign and revenue model for their new venture.  Generation gap?  Hardly. This was a business opportunity and consulting meeting. Age never entered the conversation.

And moments after that meeting ended, I spoke with my 87 year old mother who was depressed because her Internet connection was down for almost a week. And when she finally resorted to walking to the library because “she just couldn’t stand [being unplugged from the Internet] anymore,” she found nearly 400 emails waiting for her. Even for the “elderly,” staying connected and doing business via the Internet is part of their daily lives.

For me, yesterday was the epitome and paradox of contrasting attitudes toward different generations. The day’s events offered an important lesson for all of us – do not pass judgment blindly. Most fifty year olds are not elderly and Gen Ys are not slackers, sloppy, and self-centered.  At least for a few minutes yesterday I was able to demonstrate how technology and especially social media can effectively disrupt generational stereotypes and bridge cohorts separated by over 65 years.

Fortunately for many, the gap is invisible.  For others, different generations live worlds apart. Hopefully, technology can bridge the gap and open communication.

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Report Paints Different Picture of Baby Boomer Job Hopping

The generation gap is growing. But a few recent studies are shattering some perceptions.

Gen Y has caught a lot of flack for job hopping and for having a bad case of employee disloyalty. Baby Boomer and Gen X managers claim it’s impossible to find good hires from amidst this young generation even with a shortage of jobs and a surplus of jobseekers.

But new data on who changes jobs frequently indicates that Baby Boomers might be the pot calling the kettle black.

The recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics may surprise many people.  The report shows that Late Boomers, born between 1957 and 1964, have been busy hopping between employers. In fact, between ages 18 and 44, the Late Boomers have had an average of 11 employers, which translates into a job change every 2.4 years.

Job hopping was even worse among Late Boomer men without a high school diploma. They held an average of 13.3 jobs, while men with at least a bachelor’s degree still had 11 jobs. In the case of women, uneducated ones, in fact, had fewer jobs (9.7) than their degreed counterparts (11.7 jobs).

During the time of life (ages of 18-22) when most people move between school and summer jobs, the Late Boomers held an average of 4.4 jobs. However, they kept moving even at more mature ages: they had 2.6 jobs between ages 28-32, and at ages 39-44 they still held an average of 2 jobs. Among the jobs that 39- to 44-year-olds started, one third ended in less than a year.

Job hopping isn’t simply a Gen Y problem, and any explanation that sites only the character and upbringing of young workers for perceived disloyalty doesn’t match up with the picture painted by the data.

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Cool Job Creation Heats Up Generation Tensions

While the economy sputters, tensions heats up between the generations.

Lost in the diversity of generational news last week was a common element – the generations are struggling to right themselves following the recession and going forward.

The just released cover story of October’s The Atlantic magazine talks about the Baby Boomers’ last chance to redeem themselves after what the writer Michael Kinsley describes as decades of self-absorbed and self-indulgent behavior.

The postwar generation is leaving a bitter legacy: crumbling infrastructure, crushing public debt, and a reflexive cynicism about all institutions, from churches to Congress to the media. It’s time for redemption…Kinsley urges fellow Boomers to cough up some cash—say, $14 trillion—to fix the mess they’re leaving.

That could be a problem.  Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research released a study last week too that exposed a retirement income deficit that few people likely found surprising. The gap between what Americans need for retirement and the amount they have saved is a staggering $6.6 trillion.

“The retirement income deficit is the gap between the pensions and retirement savings that American households have today and what they should have today to be on track to maintain their living standard in retirement,” said Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director of the Pension Rights Center. “The retirement income deficit shows just how bad the crisis has become.”

If Baby Boomers can’t maintain the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to, they will likely keep working.  An article in Fast Company last week offered harsh realities that have stymied Generation Y (also called Millennials). Topping the list was: The Baby Boomers are not voluntarily leaving the workplace! :

The Recession has decimated the Boomers’ opportunity to retire and left them with no choice but to continue to work for the foreseeable future. And, because Boomers are living during a period when medical science is going to continue to improve their ability to be healthy and work, that “foreseeable future” is a lot longer than anyone could have imagined!

As I’ve described in several articles in the past, that’s bad news for Generation X and Generation Y.  The Fast Company article goes on to describe several scenarios that will only feed the frustration felt by the jobless Gen Ys and career-stalled Gen X.

Not only are the Boomers going to remain in the workplace but they are also going to retain their positions of authority…If they are forced out of their current employment positions, Baby Boomers will actively compete with the Millennials for other jobs!

And despite being recognized as “digital natives” and the “Internet Generation,” the advantage these young Gen Y adults may be dissipating with time. The fourth harsh reality describes

“…how the Technological Edge the Millennials touted as the differentiator between them and the other Generations in the workplace is diminishing as the other Generations, faced with no choice, close the technological gap. Boomers may never be able to text as fast as Millennials but they will be able to text fast enough for the workplace! And Boomers have the interpersonal skill set to go with the texting skill set!”

Putting the shrinking technology gap into perspective, one group wonders if the technology gap is myth or reality.  The author says “I find that Millennial (Google Generation) students have the fastest thumbs in the west and can answer a cell phone call at the speed of light.  Beyond this, their technology related skills, from an academic perspective, seem quite limited.”

This was also the topic of conversation before and during a panel discussion last week at Harrisburg University. While all the panelists agree that Generation Y are the most comfortable generation using technology, they may not be the most skilled at applying it in the workplace.

Of course, the more imminent impact of the recession and delayed departure of Baby Boomers will be felt by Generation X.  Kinsley wrote in a forum response to his Atlantic article how “Gen-Xers are going to get screwed by [the entitlements and debt government is accumulating] even more than Boomers as the bills come in.”

And while the bills could be huge, the impact on society could be even bigger.

The U.S. Census Bureau released a report, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009, last week too. It revealed that that one in seven Americans are living in poverty.  It  also found that more than 8 percent of people between 25 and 34 (mostly Generation Y) are living with their parents.

Education is often prescribed as the solution to society’s ills and as the pathway to regaining our competitive position in the global marketplace.  If the prescription is correct, then the patient is dying based on a new report, Yes We Can: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males 2010. Calling it a “national crisis,” the report found that only 47 percent of black males graduated from high school in the 2007-2008 school year. And in New York City, the district with the nation’s highest enrollment in African American students, only 28% percent of its African American males students receive a high school diploma.

Poverty and poor graduation rates are unlikely to significantly increase tensions between generational gaps in the workforce.  But ignoring these problems will only add to the burden borne by future generations who will need to figure out ways to support millions of people who are unemployable.

In the short term, the longer unemployment remains high the more resentment will likely build between generations both in the workplace and in our communities.

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Round 2: Resentment Grows Between Boomers and Millennials

There appears to be a lot of white elephants in the room these days, none bigger than a generation gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials.

On this day last year I posted an article asking, “Are Generational Differences Turning From A Gap Into A Chasm?”  Today I read two articles that reveals the gap is still a very real issue that few organizations are addressing adequately.

In one corner we have Steve Israel representing the Baby Boomers. Steve posted an article titled “Millennials vs. Boomers: You twerps owe us everything.”  That about says it all.

Steve wrote:

If it weren’t for us baby boomers, most of you wouldn’t be here. Literally.

We are your parents. You sprung from our wombs, from our love.
We don’t just deserve your respect; we deserve your eternal gratitude — for the food you ate, for the clothes you wore, for the roofs over your heads. By the way, we’re still giving food, clothes and roofs to the more than 10 million of you who still live in our homes.

And what have you millennials — the 50 million Americans born between 1980 and 1995 who are becoming adults at the start of this new millennium — given us?
Nada — except the smug expectation that we should give you more.
How ungrateful can you be?

In the other corner is Millennial (aka Gen Y) Timothy Malcolm. Timothy has quite a different opinion. He urges Baby Boomers to “Give up the reins, you geezers.”

Timothy wrote:

The main reason we 20-somethings still sleep at mom’s house is because mom and dad won’t get out of the work force. They’re clogging the pipeline.

Baby boomers make up the largest generation in American history. The current 20-something generation is almost as large, ironically, thanks to the boomers having all those kids.
Because of improvements in health care, boomers are not only living longer, but they’re subjected to the salacious whispers that, yes, even in old age, they can remain vital! They can keep working, climb mountains, row boats and — gasp — have sex! Think about Lucy and Ricky or Archie and Edith cavorting in beachside bathtubs. Yeah, it is ridiculous.

Sure, we 20-somethings have some ridiculous traits, too. We waste time on Facebook, but as one of the original users, I’ve seen the boomers completely ruin that social networking site. Our music might be hard to understand, but at least I can’t take credit for Cher. And, seriously, when are the Who going to stop?

Timothy concludes his article with “So stop wasting our generation’s chance. And stop wasting our country’s possibilities.”

So far, the first round of the attitude gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials has been subdued and mostly a war of words.  But as the recession lingers on and Gen Y joblessness remains high, one can only wonder if the resentment building up will boil over in a full fledged battle.

Round two anyone?

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Book Sale: Geeks, Geezers, & Googlization Anniversary Sale- 40% off!

I’m celebrating the 1-year anniversary of the release of my book Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization and preparing for another printing.

For all of you who have purchased a copy, THANK YOU! For anyone who wants to order a 2nd copy for a colleague, boss, client, or co-worker… and for those of you who forgot to order the 1st one…I’ve got a great deal for you.

To celebrate the anniversary and re-printing, I’m offering a special discount – an additional 15% off retail. That’s on top of the 25% off that I offer for customers who order direct from our website.  So instead of paying $16.49, you can purchase Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization for the special price of $13.19. That’s a savings of $8.80. But hurry – the offer ends September 30, 2010.

And that’s not all. For purchases of 5 or more books, I’ll pay shipping!

To order your books now, go to Buy The Book and enter coupon code GGG-1Year.

But act now – the offer ends at the end of the month.

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Generation Gaps Occur At All Ages

Like many workers, one day earlier this year former Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Donovan McNabb and Gen Xer came to work only to discover he was old.

The 6 time Pro-bowler and 5 time conference title QB was dealt to the division rival Washington Redskins.  One reason given for the trade was a generation gap, although Coach Andy Reid denied age was a part of the criteria in the decision to part ways with McNabb.

One might expect that defensive remark coming from an employer in this litigious job market.  Age discrimination is a major concern as businesses try their best to rebuild their workforces. Many businesses chose to force early retirement and layoffs to create openings for younger, cheaper workers who could keep pace in a faster paced, more dynamic, and more innovative marketplace.

The wrinkle in this generation gap story however is that McNabb is only 33 years old.

BehindTheLines-3-Ira

As I’ve said before, the gap between generations isn’t always about age, but attitude. The Eagles new twenty-something line-up plays fast and they connect in a nanosecond. It even forces 52-year-old baby boomer Eagles head coach Andy Reid to keep his Blackberry charged.  “I text,” Reid says. “I’ll text something like ‘have a great day at practice.’ Or if I go through practice at the end I might shoot a guy a text like ‘great job’ or whatever the correction might be.


Communication wasn’t quite the same with McNabb and former Eagle running back Brian Westbrook. Both players dominated much of the offense for the past seven years but both also had other life demands and interests that started to separate them for the younger players.But this year it was out with the old and in with the new generation of younger players. Kevin Kolb, McNabb’s replacement 26, is the oldest of the offensive nucleus. Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy are 22, while DeSean Jackson is 23. Tight end Brent Celek is 25. He and Kolb are the only guys in the group legally old enough to rent a car.

In addition to texting and tweeting, the new generation spends a lot of time together off the field. McNabb had a lot of different demands on his time. Jeremy Maclin felt that “being close in age you just kind of bond with guys a little more around your age. And I think it does translate to the field.”

Employers of all types of organizations could learn a lesson or two from the Eagles story.  First, generation gaps aren’t limited to Baby Boomers and Millennials. They occur between younger and older workers even when only a few years separate the workers.  Second, generations isn’t just influenced by age differences, but attitudes toward life and work.

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Employers and Employees On Collision Course

Employers and employees are obviously headed for a collision to be played out in a workplace near you.  A recently released Deloitte report called the standoff “a tale of two mindsets.”

Many employers seem to believe their employees have few options in this weak economy.  They feel employees should feel lucky they have job.

Employees, especially the most talented and qualified, see the world a bit differently. Among employees surveyed in the Deloitte survey, a significant number of workers are looking to jump ship. Thirty percent of employees are currently working the job market and nearly half are at least considering leaving their current jobs.

That stands in sharp contrast to the executives who were surveyed. Only 9 percent of executives expect voluntary turnover to increase significantly among Generation X employees. That means 9 out of 10 executives may be ignoring the elephant in the room.

The survey revealed that about 22 percent of Generation X employees are actively job hunting.  Even more alarming, only 37 percent plan to remain with their current employers.  Employers might find Generation Y a little stickier when it comes to retention but even then 44 percent plan to stay put over the next year.

Employee retention isn’t the only thing that executives and employees appear to disagree on. When asked to rank their top three retention tactics, employees chose in every instance different non-financial incentives than the executives. Even greater differences existed when executives were asked to identify retention strategies that might appeal to different generations.

For instance, Gen Y and executives agreed that additional compensation and bonuses were effective.  But that’s where agreement broke down.  While 29 percent of the executives believe flexible work arrangements were what Gen Y wanted, nearly 4 out of 10 Gen Y employees said they wanted job advancement opportunities.  Generation X wants a job with good wages but are only willing to stay if they can learn new skills too.

Like they’ve done many times in the past, Baby Boomers break the mold on retention strategies too.

Baby Boomers are looking for strong leadership, additional bonuses, and more compensation. Executives offer benefits, bonuses and flexible work arrangements.

Based on the results of this survey, executives are offering money and flexibility while the three most active generations in the workplace want opportunity, bonuses, and compensation.  Executives need to learn that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to employee retention and stop using the recession as their primary retention strategy.

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Generational Views on Career Challenge Employers

The more things change, the more different generations of workers become the same, suggests a new study about generational views on careers from Robert Half. The research shows that workers of all ages have a new appreciation for company stability when making career decisions. Yet, four out of 10 professionals polled said they are more inclined to look for new opportunities outside their firms as a result of the recession.

Cross-generational teams bring challenges and rewards. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of hiring managers said managing multigenerational work teams poses a challenge. But more than one-third of workers polled felt having a group of employees at different experience levels increases productivity.

What are the most significant generational differences when it comes to workforce planning?

  • Generational views on next career steps differ. For Gen Y, looking for a new job is the most common post-recession career plan, whereas Gen Xers polled said they are more inclined to update their skills. For baby boomers surveyed, staying put at their companies was the most commonly cited post-recession career plan.
  • More Gen Yers (36 percent) than Gen Xers (30 percent) and baby boomers (24 percent) planned to look for new job opportunities.
  • Gen Xers polled were more inclined to enhance their skills sets (38 percent) and build tenure with their companies (33 percent) in the aftermath of the recession than other generations.
  • A greater percentage of baby boomers (54 percent) than Gen X (46 percent) or Gen Y (39 percent) respondents said they will work past the traditional retirement age.
  • More Gen Xers (34 percent) than baby boomers (27 percent) said they had increased their retirement savings since the recession began.
  • More baby boomers (54 percent) than Gen X (45 percent) or Gen Y (35 percent) employees identified the greatest challenge when working with multiple generations as having differing work ethics and approaches to work/life balance; more Gen Yers attributed difficulties to differing communication styles (29 percent for Gen Y versus 16 percent for both Gen X respondents and baby boomers).

But different generations don’t always see the world differently? Many generation similarities do exist.

Understanding the values shared by nearly all employees, particularly in light of changing economic conditions, can help companies enhance their recruitment and retention efforts,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of “Human Resources Kit For Dummies,” second edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

  • For all generations surveyed, working for a stable company and having job security were two of the most important aspects of the work environment, beating out having a short commute or working for a socially responsible company.
  • When evaluating employment offers, salary, company stability and benefits were the most important factors for all three generations.
  • Health care coverage, dental coverage, vacation time and 401(k) matching were the highest valued benefits for all generations surveyed.
  • The most commonly cited benefit of being part of multigenerational work teams was bringing together various experience levels to provide knowledge in specific areas.

“Many employees, particularly Gen Y professionals, are biding their time in their current employment situations and plan to make a move when they feel the economy is on firmer footing,” said Brett Good, a Robert Half International district president. “Now is the time for employers to take action and outline career paths within their company for strong performers. “

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